Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said in the same way that the Philippines is “very serious” about defending its sovereignty, Kuwait will also not allow violation of its laws by other countries.
Kuwait expels Philippine envoy
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 26, 2018 - 12:00am

KUWAIT – Kuwait has ordered the Philippines’ ambassador to leave the Gulf Arab state and recalled its envoy in Manila for consultations, state news agency KUNA reported yesterday.

The decision came after the Philippines apologized on Tuesday for recent attempts by embassy staff to “rescue” Filipino domestic workers from their employers’ homes amid reports of abuse, which Kuwait viewed as a violation of its sovereignty.

Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa has been given a one-week deadline to leave the Gulf Arab nation.

Villa earlier said it was never the intention of the Philippines to violate the sovereignty and internal processes of Kuwait or offend the sensitivities of the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti people when the embassy was compelled to respond to the calls for assistance of OFWs.

Last Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano issued an apology for the actions of the embassy in the past weeks.

“I join our Secretary of Foreign Affairs in extending this apology,” Villa said also last Tuesday. The ambassador appealed for understanding of the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti people.

‘Philippines gained respect, friendship’

The country did not lose face in apologizing to Kuwait after the Gulf state protested the rescue of distressed Filipinos by Philippine embassy officials, senators said yesterday.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said in the same way that the Philippines is “very serious” about defending its sovereignty, Kuwait will also not allow violation of its laws by other countries.

“We gained the respect and friendship of Kuwait more (in apologizing), and maybe some other countries (that) monitored the situation will see that at least the Philippines knows how to apologize,” Pimentel said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum.

“We were enforcing our laws in Kuwait, so if we exceeded that, it’s only proper that we apologize,” he said.

But the country should stop sending its workers to dangerous places, he said.

Sen. Francis Escudero said he was glad to see Philippine embassy officials “being aggressive in defending the rights of abused Filipino workers and with gusto.”

“I hope that the apology notwithstanding, they will still be aggressive in protecting, defending and rescuing troubled OFWs (overseas Filipino workers),” Escudero said.

He said Filipinos living or working abroad have to feel safe and confident in the fact that their government will protect and defend them.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said the rescue mission conducted by the embassy officials in Kuwait, even though it violated diplomatic protocols, was done to save the lives and protect the welfare of the OFWs.

Ejercito aired his hope that the incident would not affect the amnesty extension for OFWs in Kuwait.

He called for the conduct of an inquiry into the said rescue mission, including the events that transpired after, with the end in view of strengthening diplomatic missions abroad, particularly in protecting OFWs and ensuring that officials abroad have the proper orientation on diplomatic protocols. 

“But it is my belief that this incident is simply a manifestation of a larger issue: can the Philippine government and the government of countries that host our OFWs provide adequate protection for Filipinos abroad?” Ejercito said. 

“We value our friendship with other nations but this has to be balanced with our ultimate goal – to protect the well-being of Filipinos overseas,” he added.

For his part, Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa underscored that it was never the intention of the Philippines to violate the sovereignty and internal processes of Kuwait or offend the sensitivities of the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti people when the embassy was compelled to respond to the calls for assistance of OFWs.

Last Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano issued an apology for the actions of the embassy in the past weeks.

“I join our Secretary of Foreign Affairs in extending this apology,” Villa said also last Tuesday. The ambassador appealed for understanding of the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti people.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is studying the labor market in Russia, in preparation for the deployment of OFWs there.

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, he has formed a technical working group (TWG) that will look at the labor regulations and polices in Russia.  

The TWG will also  conduct discussions and meetings, “leading to the formulation of an agreement for possible deployment to Russia,” Bello said.

The TWG was tasked to establish a program of activities for a series of policy consultations between the Philippines and Russia. It will also meet with the counterparts of DOLE and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in Russia to “further discuss policies for the protection and welfare of Filipino workers,” he said.

Bello added that the TWG  will initiate the orientation of Russian employers and recruitment agencies about Philippine laws governing the deployment of OFWs. 

As the country has lost thousands of jobs over the deployment ban, recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani appealed for its review, claiming that workers have appealed to him to intercede on their behalf.

These workers include engineers, IT professionals, nurses, medical and laboratory technicians and sales personnel, among others, who had been issued visas before they could procure overseas employment certificates last Jan. 22, Geslani said. – With Pia Lee-Brago, Sheila Crisostomo, Rudy Santos, Marvin Sy

AQUILINO PIMENTEL III KUWAIT APOLOGY OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS
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